Man barges in, assaults household, but they fight back and police kill him

October 27, 1992|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Staff Writer

The living room of the Shrewsburys' East Lombard Street rowhouse bore the marks of a battle -- pictures askew, blood stains on the upholstery, and blood caked on the crystal ashtray 79-year-old Mona Shrewsbury used to clout an intruder who barged in with a club.

The stranger threatened to kill the family, forcing them to defend themselves with fists, the ashtray and a machete, before he was chased outside and began fighting in the street with Mrs. Shrewsbury's great-grandson.

Minutes later, police arrived and the stranger was shot and killed by officers, allegedly after he came out from a hiding place beneath a car holding a knife and gun.

Police said yesterday they did not know why the man had attacked the family. He was identified as Bernard Edward Humphrey, 41, who once lived in the 3200 block of E. Lombard St., two blocks from the assault scene. Police did not know his current address.

"I think he had the wrong house," Mrs. Shrewsbury said yesterday afternoon. "It's the only explanation I can think of."

The stranger broke the screen door of the home, in the 3400 block of E. Lombard St., about 2:30 a.m., then entered a tiny foyer and began working on the wooden door.

Mrs. Shrewsbury's 62-year-old son, Calvin, opened the door, and a short man wearing a makeshift mask lunged at him, striking him with a club. "I'm going to kill you, I'm going to kill all of you," the man said, according to the family.

Fred Redden, 20, Mrs. Shrewsbury's great-grandson, was asleep in his basement room. His great-grandmother, great-uncle and his grandmother, Norma Redden, were in the front room, watching a horror movie. Mr. Shrewsbury, who is tall and wiry, managed to pin the man against the wall at first. But the shorter, younger man was too strong. When the club fell to the floor, the assailant pulled a knife.

"He was like an ox coming at you," Mrs. Redden said. "He would not go down and he wouldn't go out."

However, when Mr. Redden woke up and came upstairs with a machete, the intruder began to back down. He yelled repeatedly that he had a gun, reaching toward something in his jacket, then falling back as Mr.

Redden poked at him with the machete. "I think he would have killed us if it weren't for Gator," Mrs. Shrewsbury said, referring to her great-grandson by his nickname.

Finally, the assailant ran out into the street, but Mr. Redden followed. When police officers arrived, they found the two grappling in the street. In the ensuing confusion, the assailant managed to flee.

When police finally found the man, hidden beneath a car on Mount Pleasant Street, no one in the house on East Lombard heard the shots. Mr. Redden was in a police car, where he heard only the police radio. Mrs. Shrewsbury and Mrs. Redden were tending to Mr. Shrewsbury, who had to be treated for bruises and lacerations at Francis Scott Key Medical Center.

"I never thought I'd be glad to see someone dead," Mrs. Redden said.

"I'm a mother and I know that was some mother's son. But I never had anything get under my skin like that."

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